HUNTINGTON, NY--Health care professionals can now enjoy a daily cancer newspaper with their morning coffee--by logging on to the Cancer Information Network's daily news journal Oncology News International Today.
With a click of the mouse, the user can scroll through a section labeled "Today's Headlines," then read selected items on the screen or print out some, or all, of the day's oncology-related news, creating, in effect, a personalized cancer newspaper.
Written by experienced medical journalists, this daily news journal is compiled from a wide array of sources, including major newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times, TV broadcasts, cancer organizations, the FDA and other government agencies, and selected cancer journals.
"Although, on the Internet, information is king, it's useless unless it's organized in some way that you can find it easily," said Edwin Geffner, director of interactive media at PRR, Inc., which developed and maintains the Cancer Information Network (CIN). "We have, in effect, developed our own cancer news bureau and made it easily accessible."
If a reader is looking for specific information, he or she can do a keyword search for current or past news items. Articles will stay current for at least a year. For example, if the reader wanted to review stories on the proposed tobacco settlement, rather than going through months of newspapers, the relevant items could be found online in ONI Today.
Most of the articles carry links, highlighted by an underscore, so that the reader can go to the original source for more information. In many cases, e-mail addresses are provided so that the reader can go to the source and interact with the group that generated the story.
Mr. Geffner explained that ONI Today is not meant to provide in depth coverage of scientific breakthroughs or medical meetings, "because we couldn't do those stories justice in the space we have. We've separated the daily news information from the more archival journal and conference reports, which make up the bulk of the CIN website."
The CIN website includes full texts of articles from PRR's publications, including Oncology News International, the journal ONCOLOGY, Primary Care & Cancer, and Cancer Management, and free access to MEDLINE, among many other features.
As part of CIN's "one-stop shopping" approach for oncology professionals, visitors to the website can now easily locate other cancer-related websites and "hyperlink" to them.
"With most search engines, if your keyword is cancer, you might get a list of 20,000 websites that talk about cancer in some way," Mr. Geffner said. But CIN's new section, Resources on the Web (see table below), includes only sites that have cancer as a major focus or are of direct interest to oncologists.
Resources on the Web
Users of the Cancer Information Network can link to more than 640 cancer-related websites in the following categories:
"Resources on the Web is one of the most comprehensive directories of cancer-related websites, user groups, and other Internet resources available anywhere on the web," Mr. Geffner said.
The visitor will find a brief description of each site and, for some of the more complex sites, such as the one maintained by the American Cancer Society, a breakdown of the website by various sections with links to the appropriate pages at those sites.
Mr. Geffner pointed out that a frequent request from CIN users is: "What websites can I recommend for my patients?" Resources on the Web lists a wide selection of available sites under the section Patient Education and Support. Another section allows physicians to learn about alternative therapies their patients may be using or have asked about.
Although CIN does not have the resources to critically evaluate each site, physicians can, in most cases, quickly link on to the site, directly from CIN, to find out what's there and then use their own judgment to assess its value.
Logging on to CIN
The CIN website was developed for optimal viewing with Internet Explorer 3.0, but any frames-capable browser, such as Netscape Navigator 2.0 or 3.0, may be used. Health care professionals may log on at www.cancernetwork.com. Phone 516-424-8900, ext 336, for more information.